The fears of Charles Darwin; Typhoid Mary; installing the bees: newsletter, April 6, 2018

April 9, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism, newsletter.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,171) on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Planting the garden was the first order of business on the farm this week. After I had completed the tilling last week, we had some more rain, so the planting did not begin on Good Friday, as is our usual custom. But we did manage to get in some beans and broadcast some buckwheat. It always feels good to do some planting. You never know what will happen.

And speaking of never knowing, I installed three new hives of bees last week. More on that below. You never know about them either.

So, these past few days have been fun for me. I hope the same can be said for you.

Important: Remember to open the images or click on one of the links so that my email service will record your engagement and you will stay active on the list. Thanks.


The fears of Charles Darwin

In the late 1850s, Charles Darwin was haunted by three fears. The first two kept him from completing is world-altering book, Origin of Species. The third spurred him to finish it.

Darwin feared what his colleagues would think of his work; more specifically, he feared that it would be dismissed as irrelevant. His second fear was his wife Emma. She was a highly religious woman, and his scientific work — as well as that of fellow scientists — was being increasingly challenged by the Church of England — just as those scientists were challenging the position of the church as the primary arbiter of truth.

The third of Darwin’s fears was that he thought he might get scooped. That fear came rushing through the door in the form of a letter and manuscript that arrived at his house in the late spring of 1858. It caused Darwin to begin writing a concise, coherent argument for his idea that evolution occurred through natural selection. A year and a half later, he was finished and Origin of Species was published.

You can read more about all of this in this post on


Major League Baseball teams with Facebook

Major League Baseball got together with Facebook for an interesting first this week: It was the first time MLB had broadcast a live game only on Facebook. There are several more such games scheduled throughout the season. (See the post I did on for the schedule.) So, why is this interesting?

Facebook is a social media platform, not a broadcast network. It’s not ESPN or MLB.TV or one of the local stations that carry the games of the local teams. There’s a different audience there — an interactive audience. Indeed, the broadcast was set up to allow viewers to comment, to respond, to chat with their friends about the game, the players, the weather conditions anything and everything. This may or may not be good for baseball or for Facebook, but it’s different and interesting.

And it’s something new for Facebook, too. Is Facebook morphing into something more than a social media platform? Will it start producing and broadcasting its own programming, ala Amazon? Given Facebook’s current public relations problems, I wouldn’t be surprised at any of this.


Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary is not just an expression, and she’s not a ghost from some mysterious past. She was a real person who lived in the 20th century and whose story is a sad one. Her name was Mary Mallon. She lived and worked in New York City during the first decade of the 20th century. She was a cook, and during those first years of the new century, she worked in the homes of a number of wealthy families.

Seven of those families suffered typhoid outbreaks, and in 1906 she was named by public health officials as the cause. She never had typhoid or suffered any symptoms, but she was a carrier.

She was quarantined in 1906 and released four years later after promising she would not work as a cook again. Soon thereafter she disappeared. Five years later, public health officials were again investigating an outbreak of typhoid at a New York hospital when they discovered she had been working there as a cook under a different name. Again, she was quarantined, but this time it was for 23 years — the remainder of her life.

Mallon was born in Ireland in 1869 and came to the U.S. when she was a teenager. She is thought to be the cause of several thousand people contracting typhoid during her working years, and some of those people died. According to the National Institutes of Health, no one ever explained to her the significance of being a carrier of the disease. She eventually accepted her confinement and took solace in her religion. 



The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries.

Amazon Gift Card raffle. Here’s a chance to win an Amazon gift card worth $100 with which to do some spring shopping. All you have to do is sign in (if you’ve use before, you may not even have to do that). You will get yourself on some author mailing lists, but you can always unsubscribe if you prefer.


Installing the bees

For about a decade now I have been keeping bees, and one of the most exciting times in the life of a beekeeper is when you get to install a new hive of bees. That happened for us this week as we picked up three new packages of bees and put them into hives. A standard “package” of bees is a box with three pounds of bees (about 10,000 bees) inside. Also inside is a queen in a separate small cage.

So, how do you persuade the bees to go into the hives that you have prepared for them? Well, you pour them in — literally.

To see this process, watch this three-minute YouTube video that I posted several years ago.

Next week I’ll tell you more about what was going on in the video and how we get the hives going.



The email bag included the following reactions to items in last week’s newsletter:

Bach’s birthday

Jack S.: There is much confusion in changing dates from Old Style (O.S.) to New Style (N.S.) because different countries and different religions made the change at different times.  The O.S. Julian calendar presumed a year was 365.25 days.  By the mid 16th C. scientists had determined the year was exactly 365.2425 days.  This meant the Julian calendar had too many leap years.The difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars adds up the accumulated days to 10, therefore there are 10 days difference between the 2 calendars (slightly different in the UK and its colonies).
Bach is generally said to have been born on March 21; the Gregorian calendar had already been adopted in Catholic countries in 1582, but the Protestant areas of Germany didn’t adopt the new calendar until 1700; 15 years after Bach’s birth.  Thuringia had been Protestant since the Protestant Reformation, so we can assume the calendar change was in 1700.
Bach’s birthday as March 21 is O.S., which makes March 31 correct—probably.  However I’ve read that the coming calendar change was known for almost 50 years before the change actually occurred.  I’ve seen reports (no, I don’t remember where or when) that many dates had already been transposed for 20 years before the actual fact of the change.
Since March 21 was the date I adopted my wife’s twins 40+ years ago I’ve always chosen to keep March 21 as Bach’s birthday.  Such a great excuse for playing Bach’s music all day, even over the complaints of 2 teenagers wanting someting “more relevant.”
De gustibus and all that.

Opening Day

Tod: . . .  thanks for the Casey at the Bat. I remember our 5th grade teacher, Miss Everett, reading that to us, with her own dramatics.

The Stone Fleet

Angie L.: I remember stories about the sinking of ships in the Charleston Harbor, I was born in Charleston and grew up close by I also remember them having to dredge it out because the debris was stopping the port flow. Since the Navy closed the base, they still have the Naval Weapons Station there and with the new Author Ravenel Bridge, things have changed. They have the maritime museum which has the USS Yorktown and a few others that are great to walk through. The Cooper River has always held a special place in my heart as it has to others who watched the old bridges being replaced by the suspension bridge.It is a beautiful place to visit.

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Charles Darwin

Best quote of the week:

“There are two ways that a human being can feel confidence. One is knowledge, and the other is ignorance.” — Charles Darwin

Helping those in need

This is my weekly reminder to all of us (especially me) that there are many people who need our help. It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here). When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief ( my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.


Jim Stovall

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter: Free audiobooks and more; Churchill the writer, part 3; the Stone Fleet; newsletter, March 30, 2018 



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